It’s Friday, so I figured I’d end the week with a quick story!
Remember that time I was in Paris? Well, contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t all beautiful architecture and famous monuments. In fact, the one memory that stands out to me the most during my trip to Paris doesn’t have to do with the city at all!
It all started after getting off the train in Paris. I was eighteen years old and on my own in a foreign country with little French knowledge, and I was feeling fresh. It was a partly cloudy summer day with its share of tourists, but I arrived pretty early so fortunately the streets were not too crowded. First, I visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame and walked around in that area. Next, I hoped to visit the Eiffel Tower, but to my dismay, the metro line that goes from the Cathedral to the Eiffel Tower was broken. Not having anything else to do, I decided to walk. Hey, why not? It was nice and breezy outside, the Seine is beautiful and I was ready to see the city. Plus, everyone likes a little fresh air.
I happened to run into a big crowd of tourists who had also decided to walk in the same direction, so I walked among them and made small talk. Things were going great until suddenly, I felt a tug at my backpack. I thought maybe it had gotten caught on something, so I felt behind me, only to realize one of the zippers was open – the one that carried my wallet and cell phone.
Frantically, I looked through my backpack to make sure nothing had been stolen. Wallet? Check. Cell phone? Check. Keys, camera, money? Yup. My stomach sank as I realized what was missing: my passport.
Shocked, I kept trudging along the Seine with the group of tourists I’d found. Someone even asked me if I was okay. A lump formed in my throat as I thought about what could happen – as an eighteen-year-old girl traveling alone with minimal knowledge of French, a million things could go wrong. Even worse, the breeze was picking up and it looked like it was about to rain.
A man wearing a fluffy, white scarf was pushing through the crowd to my left. These people, I thought to myself, are always in such a hurry! He certainly seemed to be late for something.
Then, suddenly, a gust of wind blew the man’s scarf up and I saw him holding my passport, with its owl-themed case, underneath. I gasped and, without thinking, made my way toward him. He was walking swiftly though, so once I was within arms’ reach, I grabbed him by the shoulder, stopping him in his tracks. Then, I looked him in the eye and said, “Excuse me, sir, I think that’s mine.” I then snatched the passport straight from his hand and walked away before he could say anything more.
Needless to say, I learned that day how to care for my belongings while traveling and how to be alert. When things like this happen, it’s important to act quickly and stay in control. Now, I always keep my passport very well-hidden, and I make sure to make my valuables difficult to access. Although I was terrified at the time, this is certainly a memory I’ll never forget!